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Gwen C. (Clearfield, PA)
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate
I thoroughly enjoyed the first 7/8 of this well-researched novel. Susanna Calkins paints a vivid picture of London, circa 1665 on. Right from page one we are pulled into the world of Lucy, the Hardgrave's' chambermaid. Murders ensue, as does religious conflict (Quakers, papists, Anglicans, in the aftermath of Cromwell's Puritans), questionable judicial practices, the plague, the great London fire, and yes, an unsuitable romance. Social classes are defined – but not always as you would expect (i.e. the help dines with the family on nights without company.) Plot aside, the trivial details – the newly enacted garbage law with the raker and Fumifugium, shackled roosters, the origins of the London Bridge song, a new cookbook recipe, the 17th century murder broadsides and ballads, marriage shops for folks too poor to afford a church wedding, etc. – make this book a fascinating read.
Freya H. (Phoenix, AZ)
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate
My criticism is that the last section of the book slid into a gothic tale with an all too-pat resolution. However, all in all, it's a very worthy read and one I know my friends will enjoy.
This book, although entertaining, didn't really show
Loren B. (Appleton, WI)
me anything new or exciting. The plot was predictable, the characters you've met many times before, and the ending was no surprise. I would not recommend it to my book club.
I usually enjoy historical mysteries and was looking forward to this novel as it takes place during a time period I had not read about before. The history behind the plot was interesting but I found the characters to not be very well-developed, and the mystery itself as well as the "romance" to be rather trite.
Brenda S. (Forest Hill, MD)
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susana Calkins
Over all this just an OK read - I've read worse, but also better. The author has potential and perhaps the next book will be better.
First, I really like the picture on the cover of the book. It shows a young girl dressed in clothing from the past holding envelopes behind her back with drops of blood on them. This in itself captures your curiosity.
Mary Lou C. (Shenandoah Junction, WV)
I love mysteries and historical fiction so this book fit both of my passions. This story takes place in the 1600's and the central character, Lucy, is one of the servants to a wealthy family of this time. Since I am a be fan of "Downton Abbey", I loved this book because it reminded me of my favorite show. Lucy is a sweet, lovable young lady that stands up for what she believes. She reminds me of a younger Anna from Downton Abbey.
Mrs. Calkins has enough suspicious characters in the story making the mystery difficult to solve. In fact I was surprised by the outcome.
I enjoyed the characters especially as I mentioned Lucy. I look forward to reading more stories with Lucy as the main character as Mrs. Calkins states that this is the first in a series with Lucy.
I liked how the author used her knowledge and research of history to portray what occurs in the story though sometimes she used circumstances that didn't exist in the history yet which she explains in her follow up.
I give this book four stars and look forward to reading more books by Susanna Calkins! I am a member of a book group and would recommend this to the members as many of us enjoy reading Historical Fiction.
A Murder at Rosamund's Gate was a very interesting story, set in 17th century England. It offered great insight into the conditions and attitudes of that period. I felt the author attempted to include so many historical events, it lost focus at times.
Martha L. (Warner, NH)
murder and justice
Although it started a little slow for me, it quickly grabbed me and I couldn't put it down. Well written mystery with a surprise ending. Characters were well developed and believable. Definitely worth reading.
Murder at Rosamund Gate by Susanna Calkins is a debut novel. The setting of the book is in London during the seventeenth century. The lines of class, sex and religion were well drawn. A servant was always a servant. A woman was from weaker moral and intellectual levels. A Quaker was a derogatory name for the beginning of the Friend's religious convictions. In the middle of all this is Lucy, the main character. She is a chambermaid at a house of a local magistrate. She is caught in her station and treated with some disregard as a girl servant. Lucy's friend dies and her brother William is arrested for the murder. The story continues with twists and turns, including the plague, London burning and the search for the murderer.
The book felt authentic to me with the attitudes of the upper class. The courts were a different place than today. Hearsay, no collection of evidence and story telling often ruled the day with people being punished due to their station in life and lack of understanding of the law. I found the information about the "penny accounts" or broad sheets that were printed with the stories and ballads of the murders intriguing. The idea that justice was based on such "truths" surprised me.
I did find the book interesting and was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I enjoyed the story and the information presented. The characters were interesting and represented people from that time. I found the negativity with the lack of respect for girls who were servants difficult to accept. The negativity toward any religious differences also while appropriate to the time of the novel was also difficult to accept. (Although I guess it shouldn't be based on current events.)
All in all, it was a good book.